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GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Titans win DRL title with close call over Woodhaven (PHOTO)

Cassie Breen (32) and her Woodhaven Warriors made things interesting in the final quarter Thursday night against Tinara Moore (24) and the Anderson Titans. In the end, Moore's Titans won the game, and the Downriver League title, finishing with a perfect record. Photo by Dave Chapman

With a win over the Titans last season, the Woodhaven girls’ basketball team prevented Anderson from outright owning the DRL title and the teams settled for the share.

Woodhaven was looking for that same scenario on Thursday night, but the Titans had other plans and took the title outright.

It was 67-65 with 6.6 seconds to go and the Warriors had possession. They worked their way down looking for the open shot to tie the game, or better yet win with a triple and eliminate the overtime possibility.

The Warriors passed around the perimeter a few times, looked for the shot, and with a bobble, missed the opportunity and the score held through the buzzer.

It secured the Titans the league title and an unblemished league record.

Anderson had a 19 point lead late in the third quarter but the final was just the two-point difference.

This is Woodhaven and Anderson after all.

It was a tale of two halves with and quick back and forth first half followed by a big Titan third and a big Woodhaven fourth.

“It was everything I expected it to be,” Anderson Coach Larry Sakalas said. “I knew it was gonna be a battle; they’re a good team.

“Any given night they can win, we can win. They came out and threw a punch, we threw a punch right back. We went up, they answered; they went up, we answered.

“It was just a Southgate Woodhaven game. We just got a couple shots to roll our way tonight and they didn’t and that could very easily go the other way and they could have won tonight.”

Woodhaven Coach Rodney Scharboneau echoed his thoughts.

“I don’t think it matters what the lead is,” he said. “Whether they go up or we go up, the history we have in the last three years … it doesn’t seem to matter.

“It seems like right at the end, it’s always within a point or two.”

The Warriors started to pull back in at the end of the third but the Titans held a 58-43 advantage heading into the final outing.

Allison Manning hit an early three and the Warriors rolled from there. Two minutes later, Cassie Breen hit two quick triples and suddenly it was a three-point game, 61-58.

The Titans added baskets to keep their lead, but a few big Woodhaven blocks and Anderson turnovers kept the Warriors right on the heels of their biggest rival.

Manning put it within four, Leah Malam added another for the Titans, Breen put it within four again.

With 52.2 seconds to go, Hailey Leidel sank both of her free throws for the two point game and it seemed as if the entire gym held its breath as the Warriors looked to set up that final shot.

Early in the game, it was Woodhaven’s game as Manning sunk an early three and the Warriors went on a seven point run over the next two minutes.

But Anderson quickly recovered and with 3:55 left in the game took its first lead when Tinara Moore hit a field goal for an 11-9 score.

Tinara Moore.

The senior captain the floor and the glass all night, finishing with 25 points and 18 rebounds.

She was huge in the second quarter, scoring 10 of Anderson’s 21 points as the Titans outscored the hosts 21-11.

Moore tied things up at 24 and the and-one gave Anderson a 25-24 lead with 4:11 to go.

They never relinquished that lead.

It was Moore again who gave the Titans the 19-point lead in the third, but the triples from Breen and Manning popped up again and made things interesting down the stretch.

The Warriors were outscored 43-24 in the middle quarters, but never once gave up and won the final eight minutes 22-9.

Moore agreed with the coaches and said it was a typical game between the two teams.

“We just came and played a great game,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many points we won by, we won. It was a great team effort by every teammate.

“We made mistakes, but we got them back for the win.”

Mistakes cost the Titans the fourth quarter and Sakalas said although his team is a fast attacking team, they were trying to slow things down.

“We’ve been practicing trying to slow it down,” he said. “We wanna push the ball and we wanna attack (but) for them to slow down is out of their comfort zone.

“We just didn’t make good reads on their defense. We knew what they were doing, we just didn’t make good reads and we weren’t communicating very well on the offensive end.”

The Warriors were indeed looking for a fast game.

“We just wanted to pick up the pace and pick up the energy,” Scharboneau said. “It seems like when we play half-court, they were hurting us more, so we tried to play more full-court.”

Despite the loss, Scharboneau said it was a great game for all involved.

“This is what girls’ basketball is all about,” he said. “I’m proud of my girls; they are Warriors. They live up to their name.”

Woodhaven was led by Breen who finished the night with 24 points, including three triples and four rebounds.

Leidel had 18 points and five rebounds and Manning finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Following Moore for Anderson was Amani Corley with 17 points and two rebounds, Leah Malam with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds and Laekyn Jaciuk with 12 points and six rebounds.

An undefeated league record is new for Sakalas and he could not be more proud of the accomplishment.

“That’s a pretty good feat,” he said. “It’s hard to do, to say focused every night in games and to be 18-1 overall.

We’re gonna celebrate it and enjoy it tonight, but then we’re right back at it. This is just one step; one goal achieved and we’ve got many more we’re gonna work for.”

Barring any major upsets in the early round of districts, the two teams will have one more go around this season.

Last year they met in the semifinals and it took three overtimes before the Warriors moved on and the Titans went home.

This time, on opposite sides of the bracket, the teams could meet in the finals with everything on the line.

Moore, being a senior, knows how important it is.

“I have very high expectations of the team, so we’ve just gotta do what we have to do to get where we need to be,” she said.”

Sakalas said it’s going to be tough to beat the good Woodhaven team three times, but he looks forward to it.

Scharboneau said his Warriors plan to be ready.

“The fun’s just begun.”



Last Updated: 2/14/2014 1:40:54 PM EST

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